The prosecutor in the trial of former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV on three counts of murder can review documents about an alleged plot by Bey to kill witnesses in his case, a judge ruled today.
After a full day of closed hearings on the matter, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon said he found that “no privileges exist” to bar Deputy District Attorney Melissa Krum from seeing most of the reports and interviews about Bey’s alleged plot.
Bey and former bakery employee Antoine Mackey, both 24, are charged with three counts of murder for the deaths of former journalist Chauncey Bailey and two other men in Oakland in the summer of 2007.
Mackey’s lawyer, Gary Sirbu, can also see the documents, Reardon said.
Bey’s current lawyer, Gene Peretti, has already seen the documents.
Krum will now decide whether to seek to introduce evidence about the alleged plot during the trial of Bey and Mackey.
Pretrial hearings have already begun in the case, but jury selection won’t start until Jan. 24. Opening statements might not be presented until March.
According to an affidavit filed in court by Inspector Kathleen Boyovich of the District Attorney’s office, Gary Popoff, an associate of Bey, was arrested for attempted witness intimidation in March for allegedly planning to murder witnesses in the upcoming trial of Bey and Mackey.
Popoff has been found guilty of violating his parole for a prior conviction and currently is in state prison, Boyovich said.
According to the affidavit, Bey’s former lawyer, Lorna Brown, gave Popoff a list of witnesses that Bey wanted to have killed.
“The witnesses’ names had been highlighted so that Popoff would be able to identify the witnesses that he would have to kill so they would not be available to testify at Yusuf Bey IV’s pending murder trial,” Boyovich said.
Brown, who has also represented Bey IV in other cases and had previously represented Bey’s father, bakery founder Yusuf Bey, resigned from the triple-murder case on April 16, shortly before the original May 17 trial date for Bey IV and Mackey.
Brown is the subject of an investigation being led by Senior Deputy District Attorney Jeff Stark, but no charges have been filed against her.
Reardon said that although Stark and Krum are colleagues, Krum hasn’t previously had access to the documents about the alleged plot to kill witnesses.
Reardon, Stark and Peretti had a closed hearing all day to discuss whether Krum and Sirbu should be allowed to see the materials. They also had previous closed hearings on the matter.
Reardon said that among the materials that Krum and Sirbu can review are a recording that an interview that another prosecutor, Chris Lamiero, conducted with Brown and her lawyer, Spencer Strellis, and statements Brown made to Boyovich and yet another prosecutor, Ann Diem.
Krum and Sirbu can also review investigative reports by the Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, as well as handwritten notes by Brown, Reardon said.
Bey and Mackey are scheduled to return to court on Dec. 16 for a hearing on a defense motion to dismiss all the charges in the case and a motion by Krum to be allowed to introduce evidence of other alleged crimes by Bey to help her explain to jurors why Bey would want to have Bailey and the other two men killed in 2007.
Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News